Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite places in Asia to explore, because there are so many things to do, eat and experience. Here’s my top 20 things to do when you visit Hong Kong!
1. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Mong Kok:
You’ll find a bit of everything in Mong Kok – browse the fresh kicks along Sneaker Street (yes, there’s a dedicated street for sneakers), try some street food (like the waffles slathered in condensed milk and peanut butter), peek inside Chinese medicine shops, and enjoy the neon lights at night. You’ll never be short of things to do in Mong Kok.
2. Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car and Tian Tan Buddha:
Riding the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car up to Tian Tan Buddha is a fun half-day activity. Take the train to Tung Chung MTR station and choose whether to go for the normal cable car ($235HKD) or the upgraded glass bottom ($315HKD). As you glide along the cableway, you’ll be treated to amazing views of Lantau Island and China in the distance if it’s a clear day. Once you reach the top, there are shops and restaurants lining the road up to the base of the Tian Tan Buddha, one of Hong Kong’s iconic sights (and one of the biggest Buddha’s in the world). You can climb all the way up to the top, and go inside the Buddha. On your way down, be sure to stop in at the Citygate outlet mall if you’re interested in picking up some discounted designer goods.
3. Lamma Island:
Take a ferry from Central over to Lamma Island ($16-28HKD, depending on day of the week and specific ferry route) for some incredible hikes and a chilled-out hipster vibe. If you prefer shopping over hiking (me in a nutshell), there are plenty of boutique shops and cafes to explore along the main street of the island. Seafood lovers should definitely stop at one of the restaurants along the shore with fresh seafood cooked to order!
4. Street Markets:
Hong Kong wouldn’t be Hong Kong without its street market culture. There are different markets all across Hong Kong, catering for tourists and locals alike. Visit the Jade Market in Tsim Sha Tsui if you’re looking for some jewellery, or try the fresh fruit and vegetable market along the steep Graham Street in Central. If you’re looking to browse at night, head to Temple Street Night Market in Jordan or the Ladies Market in Mong Kok.
5. Soho and Midlevels Escalators:
The Midlevels outdoor escalators help commuters make their way up the steep mountainside in the Central area of Hong Kong. They aren’t any different from regular escalators, but for visitors it’s a novel experience riding up the street in this way. There’s plenty of hipster shops, bars and cafes in the Soho area, so it’s a perfect place to explore when you’re hungry. Just be aware that once you step off the escalator route, walking up the steep roads will leave you out of breath! And the escalators only go one way, so you’ll have to walk back down the hills by feet.
There are plenty of beautiful temples in Hong Kong. Some worth visiting include Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple (known for its hanging lanterns and water features), Man Mo Temple (known for its incense), Po Lin Monastery (next to the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau island) and Chi Lin Nunnery (known for beautifully manicured gardens).
7. Lan Kwai Fong:
If you’re looking for a night out, Lan Kwai Fong is the place to go. It’s a small area close to Soho known for its buzzing nightlife and open-air bars. You can find plenty of tourists and locals here enjoying drinks and getting rowdy any night of the week. Even if you’re not a big drinker, it’s worth walking past if you’re in the Central area to see what all the fuss is about.
8. Eat BBQ meats:
You can’t leave Hong Kong without having some barbecued meats (sorry to the vegans out there, you’ll probably want to sit this one out). You’ll see huge sides of pork, chickens and ducks hanging on display in shop fronts, ready to be freshly chopped and served with rice. Look for a place which is busy with locals, and get a double or triple combo so you can try all the meats!
9. Victoria Harbour:
Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour is a must-see when you visit. The Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui is the perfect vantage point for unobstructed views of the Hong Kong Skyline. There’s plenty of concrete seating so you can sit and relax while you watch the world go by. You can also take a ferry ride across the harbour, or even book an cruise on a traditional ‘junk boat’ to take in the scenery from the water. Victoria Harbour is lit up by a laser light show each night at 8pm, which is worth a watch if the weather is nice!
10. Chungking Mansions:
The Chungking Mansion building in central Tsim Sha Tsui is known for its eclectic character. It houses lots of electronic stores, currency exchanges and eateries on the lower floors and is known for its interesting accommodation options on the higher levels. If you’re researching accomodation and come across very cheap rooms in Tsim Sha Tsui, they’re more than likely situated in Chungking Mansions. Go inside and embrace the chaos, but be aware – everything’s can be a little ‘too good to be true’, so think twice before dropping cash on a new camera (which could be counterfeit) or booking a hotel (which probably has bed bugs).
11. Hong Kong Disneyland:
Hong Kong Disneyland isn’t as big as the parks in America, but it has all the Disney highlights with the right amount of local flair. The park mostly caters for adults rather than children, so it’s a fun day out if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city. It’s really easy to catch the train from the city out to Disneyland.
12. Gold Fish Market:
In Prince Edward, you’ll come across an area called the Goldfish Market, which is known for its weird and whacky fish trade. The streets here are lined with fish hanging in individual plastic bags ready for sale. Lots of shopkeepers don’t like you taking photos, but you can usually snap some good shots from the opposite side of the street or in a busy shop where they’re occupied with customers.
13. Yick Fat Housing Estate:
You’ve probably come across pictures of the instaworthy Yick Fat building all over the internet. It’s a short walk from Quarry Bay MTR station, and is well worth the trip out of downtown if you are into photography or Hong Kong’s architecture. The Yick Fat building is a public housing estate, so technically you aren’t allowed inside, but you can sneak through the shopping arcade off the Main Street to reach the centre. Since people live and work there, make sure you’re respectful don’t take photos of the locals unless they give you permission.
14. Visit a wet market:
Wet markets are places where locals go to pick up fruits, vegetables, meat and other fresh ingredients for cooking. Most neighbourhoods in Hong Kong will have a wet market somewhere. If seeing raw meat makes you squirm, sit this one out. Otherwise, wander though the alleys and snap some great pictures – but try not to get in anyone’s way, or you might end up getting splashed with raw chicken juice!
15. Kowloon Park:
If you’re trying to get from Tsim Sha Tsui up to Jordan, why not take the scenic route and walk through Kowloon Park. It’s the biggest bit of greenery in Hong Kong city and is great to stroll through for a bit of fresh air. There’s a lake with flamingos in the middle of the park, as well as playgrounds and sports facilities.
16. Shop for fancy outfits in Causeway Bay:
There’s plenty of shopping malls and designer stores in Causeway Bay if you’re after a bit of retail therapy. Check out SOGO department store, Hong Kong’s Times Square and stop on Houston Street for a bite of street food.
17. Stop along Fa Yuen Street overpass:
If you like people watching, stop along the walkway above Fa Yuen Street Market in Mong Kok. It’s an amazing photo spot to capture local life in Hong Kong.
18. Have dim sum and a local tea house:
Hong Kong is famous for Dim Sum, so you’ll definitely want to try some while you’re in town. Don’t be intimidated by the busy and dingy nature of local tea houses, these are the best places to sample some traditional Cantonese dishes. You’ll be able to get your favourites from home (BBQ pork buns, shu mai, prawn dumpling etc.) plus all the weird and wonderful local delicacies. Try Lin Heung Tea House in Central for an authentic dim sum experience.
19. Take the tram to The Peak:
An iconic activity to do in Hong Kong is ride the tram up the steep tracks to the top of The Peak, where you’ll have sweeping panoramic views of Hong Kong from above. The best time to go is just before sunset, so you’ll get stunning views of Hong Kong in the twilight. If the line to take the tram is particularly long, you can also take a bus up to the top as well.
If you take a bus over to the other side of Hong Kong’s Kowloon Island, you’ll experience a totally different vibe that could easily be mistaken for a cosy European beachside town. Relax on the beach, have lunch at one of the seaside restaurants along the Stanley Promenade and browse the sunny Stanley markets.
Hope you enjoyed these 20 things to do in Hong Kong, and you’ll add some of them to your list for when you visit!
If you liked this post, check out my Foodie Guide to Hong Kong: Top Places to Eat for Every Occasion.